Five Things You Might Not Know…About Me

Me.

I thought this sounded like a fascinating idea. I am fairly new to blogging (about five months) and I thought you might be interested in learning a bit more about me. So here goes:

  1. Before COVID-19, I was the choir director at my small, Catholic church. I loved the music I picked, even though we did not always have accompaniment (since my piano skills are not awesome, and I did not always bring my violin along!)
  2. This brings me to my next thing…I am a violinist and violist. I was the concertmaster (head violin for the uninitiated!) of my Symphony Youth Orchestra! I’m sure pretty much everyone is familiar with what a violin is, but if you are not into classical music, you might be unfamiliar with the viola. The viola looks like a big violin. It does, however go lower in pitch than a violin as well as having a different clef on which to read music. It’s a beautiful, if underutilized, string instrument.
  3. I can make beautiful rosaries. For those of you that do not know what a rosary is, it is a set of beads, each with certain prayers to be said on each bead. Roman Catholics use these beads for meditative prayer. We also can offer intentions for people in need when using our rosaries. There is nothing like it for me. I enjoy making rosaries, but even more, using them for prayer. Once a rosary is made, it should be blessed by a priest and then given to its intended. After the blessing, the rosary is considered a sacred object and should never be sold. It is considered acceptable to sell rosaries that have yet to be blessed, so that the buyer can take the rosary to their priest for a blessing before using it for prayer. They are never to be worn as necklaces, as they are not jewelry, though very beautiful, they are for prayer.
  4. I like to speak proper English and get annoyed when people don’t. I know that English, as well as other languages, are constantly evolving, but please…spare me the “real” nice things (REALLY nice things!!!) or that you seen someone at the park (I’m o.k. if you have seen someone or if you saw someone, but you DID NOT “seen” someone at the park!!!! I actually have a bright red t-shirt that reads “I’m silently correcting your grammar.” Yeah. It gets that bad for me!
  5. I grew up on a small farm. Hard to believe, but I am, in fact, a farm girl. I no longer live on a farm, but I still love that atmosphere and the lessons I learned about hard work and respecting nature.

So, that’s a little bit about me. How about sharing a couple of things about you? Where did you grow up? Do you have any hidden (or not so hidden!) talents? Please share in the comments section, so we can all enjoy!

Aunt Note: My Aunt C. is having more issues. She was doing better, but now the doctors have discovered she has AFib. They’re working on it, but she and my uncle could definitely use more prayers. They are both exhausted. Thanks and God bless, Rita

Wondering Waffles

Wondering where You are in all this, Lord?

Tonight, we had breakfast for dinner. It’s a fun way to shuffle up a menu change and the kids love it. It was child #3’s night to cook and she wanted waffles in the worst way! (See my lovely alliteration! An English person to the core! Diagramming, anyone?!!!) So, although I did not mind which starch she picked (waffles, pancakes, muffins) I also wouldn’t let it go without some protein. For us that meant sausage and scrambled eggs.

But do not fear, dear vegans and vegetarians! The waffles were not only gluten-free, but also dairy-free as well. The only substitute you would need to make if you were vegan was to swap out the eggs with your favorite egg replacer. Before my eldest became allergic to flax seeds, we used to use flax seed meal and warm water. However, we now use eggs because no one is allergic to them and we need the extra protein, especially since I’m well aware that certain children will be eating these leftovers without sausages or scrambled eggs for protein, and we are not vegan. Sorry, but I have enough trouble with celiac disease and lactose intolerance to give up something else, lest I be stuck with the dreaded “green beans and water diet” my mother and I used to joke about!

So, wondering waffles it is. Wondering at the twists and turns in life and trying to figure out what God has in store for us. We’ll just have to keep praying!!!!

This is a single recipe, but we always double it (and sometimes triple it if everyone is home!) since it only makes about 4 waffles and that is simply not enough for leftovers! And who doesn’t want a crispy waffle reheated in the toaster oven the next morning!

3 cups brown rice flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 1/4 cup coconut milk

1, 5.3 ounce container of vanilla soy yogurt

1 Tbsp. baking powder

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. water

Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, yogurt, baking powder, vinegar, and water. Blend with a hand mixture until smooth.

Heat up your waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions. Pour enough batter to fill about 3/4 of your waffle iron so that when closed it fills the entire thing. Cook until done, approximately 5 minutes in our waffle iron, or until the “done” light comes on!

Remove waffle from waffle iron onto a plate for waiting, hungry mouths to devour. Top with dairy-free butter, jam, maple syrup, Coco-whip, or all of the above!!! You may also top them with dairy-free butter and chocolate chips (as certain children love!) Enjoy!!!!

Pretty flowers for Aunt C.

Aunt Note: My aunt is making great progress. She will be transferred out of ICU tomorrow and into a regular room! We are so thankful and grateful for all of your prayers. Keep them coming, please, and God bless you!!!

Remember Always

Life can be a steep climb, but looking back it goes fast.

I keep forgetting that we are here for only a short while. It seems to take an eternity for things to come as children. Christmas must take at least three – five years to come. Easter, too. But once it happens, the day goes so fast and we are left to wait another three – five years for the next holiday, at least as a child.

As we grow and mature, the waiting seems to get less and less. Yes, there are times when we think the next holiday will never get here. But then it comes and we’re like “Boy! That was fast!” The more mature I get (we will not talk of older!!!) the more the time seems to fly. My children are eagerly awaiting Christmas while I look out and think what happened to August, much less September? How can Halloween be screaming down on me again?!!!

Maybe it’s just the way motherhood goes. Maybe that’s just life, which brings me to my point. (Yes. I do have one!) I have never heard an elder say that life went by so slowly, they wondered if they’d ever be done. No. Actually it’s just the opposite. The elders I have spoken to always wonder at how rapidly their lives have passed. Now they are old. When did that happen? It was just the other day that they were walking down the aisle or holding their children or holding their own mother’s hand as a child.

We tend to forget that life here is only temporary. A brief stay, showing God how much we love Him, so that we can go home to Him. We grow, marry, raise our families, help friends, make connections, grow weary, and finally rest in Him. It is a brief 40, 50, 60, 90, or even 100 year journey. That is it. Sometimes, sadly, it isn’t even that long.

And we forget. Forget that the people that walk along us in this journey, our family, our friends, even our rivals, will not be with us forever. That was never part of the bargain. I am always surprised when someone close to me passes away. I don’t know why. It’s not like I thought the person was immortal. Of course not! This is not a cartoon we live! But when someone slips away, a brother, a mother, a friend, it is a stark reminder that this world is not permanent. I forget from one passing to the next, just how temporary and fragile human life really is. It is such a miracle of God’s grace!

So, cherish the ones you love. Love them well, so that they can carry that love long after you’re gone and share it with others. Love is God and God is Love. He is what matters. He is who we need to focus on in our short time on earth. This way, the reunion with Him will be just so very sweet. To be enfolded in His arms in the sweetest hug imaginable. And then to see all of our family and friends waiting for us! What a reunion that will be! Oh the joy!!!

Note: My aunt suffered another two strokes yesterday. She is holding her own, but could still use many prayers. Thank you.

Aunt Prayers

Peace.

Dear readers,

I humbly ask for your prayers, as my aunt suffered a massive stroke early this morning. According to the latest update, she had a large blood clot removed and is responding well to a blood thinner. She also moved her eyes and fingers today, so that is very good news.

The next forty-eight hours are critical for her (and for us as a family.) Please keep her and us in your prayers.

Thank you and have a blessed day,

Rita

A Second State Park Trip

Autumn is on its way!

Today we managed to get in a second trip to the state park that children #’s 1 & 2 and I visited about a month ago. This time children #’s 2, 3, & 4 were with me. We also took our dogs, #’s 1, 2, & 3 – all of them! That is not usually a problem if we’re going on a short ride, but the state park is about 2 hours from our home, and it was a bit far for Lulu & Ducky. Delilah weathered the trip with her usual aplomb, but Lulu got sick twice, and Ducky, once. Lulu generally gets carsick. She is the runt of the two maltipoo’s (maltese and poodle mixes) we own and is sensitive to travel. Delilah, the other maltipoo, loves adventure and travel. She rarely gets sick, and only when she’s been to the vet for some very invasive surgery and is drugged out of her mind!

Lulu!

Ducky (Dr. Donald Mallard for long) is a morkypoo. That’s a maltese, yorkie, and poodle mix. He’s an idiot, and great for comic relief, though quite clever and a true Houdini dog, but he came with some major anxiety. He generally waits ’til we are at our destination, the car stops, and then he loses his meal. I think this must come from being dumped by previous owners. He was found wandering the streets before being brought to the shelter where we met him. He attached himself to child #1 and has since adopted us all. He is still nervous, however, that we will grow weary of him and dump him somewhere. This will never happen, as we love his goofy attitude and sweet protectiveness of his family, but he can’t seem to grasp that. What did they do to you, Duck? My poor boy!

Ducky and Delilah (L to R)!

So, we get to the park around three, and try, unsuccessfully to find the trail. We end up finding a different trail and follow that for about an hour. The dogs grew tired, as we did, and we turned around and came back down the trail. We took a few pictures, but by and large just avoided the raindrops.

By the time we left, and got lost on the way back to the highway!, it was raining steadily. Everyone just wanted to eat a hot meal and go home. We finally found the highway and made it back home in good time. Everyone was happy to have gone, but tired and glad to be home. A two hour hike is a good thing for all of us, dogs included!!!

What did you do this Saturday? Did you spend time cooking? With family? Studying? Reading? Watching TV? Or maybe just catching up on your sleep? They all sound wonderful! Maybe I’ll try one or two of them tomorrow!!!!

Autumn and a Quinoa Dish

Ahh…Autumn!

Today we cleaned and put up our Halloween decorations. Cheerful jack-o-lanterns, Snoopy, orange dressed birds, owls, and pumpkins were the order of the day. I even had some spider-web table runners that I got on clearance last year to decorate the glass doors of the cabinet with the kids’ movies, the mirror beside the front door, and the table that holds many of my indoor plants by the big window.

Tonight we picked the rest of the tomatoes (green ones too!) as well as any other remaining vegetables/fruits that the neighbors didn’t steal. I wish we had good neighbors. Sigh…but we do have a full basket of produce including a couple of cucumbers that happened to grow toward the deck and away from the neighbor’s side where they didn’t find them!

I’ve been thinking a lot about warm weather meals. We had a tasty one last night. I made quinoa with tomatoes, peppers, onions, yellow squash, and garlic smoked sausage. You are more than welcome to leave out the smoked sausage if you are vegan or vegetarian. It would still be very tasty and have protein, as quinoa has its own protein. Here’s the recipe:

4 cups quinoa

1/4 cup safflower oil

3 cups water

1, 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes and their juice

2 cups sliced or diced yellow squash or zucchini

1 large onion sliced thinly

2 sweet peppers (green, orange, yellow, or red) sliced thinly. I cheated for this and the onions by using a 14 oz. bag of stir fry veggies that were just peppers & onions!

1 lb. garlic smoked sausage or garlic summer sausage (Optional – leave out to make this vegan or vegetarian!)

1 Tbsp. granulated onion

2 tsp. salt (less by 1 tsp. if using sausage)

1 tsp. black pepper

In a large frying pan, add oil and heat until hot. Add quinoa, and stir frequently until oil is absorbed, and quinoa lets off a lovely roasting smell. Add water and cook for ten or so minutes so that it has a chance to start cooking before adding the other ingredients. Add tomatoes, squash, onions, and peppers. Stir in and add sausage (if using) granulated onion, salt, and black pepper. Cook, covered for another twenty minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is plumped up. This is a large recipe, so feel free to half it. I will say that it’s a great left-over. It reheats really well, and is one of my favorite lunches!!!

Quinoa…yum!!!!

What Happened to Tuesday?

A balloon we saw land coming home from the beach this Summer. The floating balloon reminded me of my mind!

My dear followers, I must apologize. I completely missed Tuesday, my normal first day of the week blog post. I only realized it today and then I was like…wait…today is Wednesday…what happened to Tuesday? I was supposed to blog. So my deepest apologies at having effectively forgotten you. So very sorry.

What were we up to that was so momentous? Well…we learned that child #3 (the child with many mental and other health issues – 8 diagnoses and counting!) has managed to get straight A’s so far in her Freshman year of high school. Now, she does have an IEP, and a tailor-made schedule, as well as a full-time aide, but she did it! She tried very hard and made those straight A’s!!! I knew she was smart! After all, I home schooled the child for seven years! I should know! So yay for child #3!!!

One of the special ed teachers at her high school e-mailed me with the good news and I quickly threw together a cake mix (oh cardinal sin!!!! though I did add some additional lime extract for a nice zing!) so that it was baking when she walked in the door from school. Then I made a fabulous chocolate frosting with my “butter” (Smart Balance) along with cocoa, powdered sugar, almond milk, and vanilla. Yum! I think I liked the frosting better than the cake!!!

Also, child #2 and I have been working on a new quilt for her bed. She absolutely loves Marvel comics (especially Spiderman!) and wanted a quilt to replace the one she’s had since she was a small child that is falling apart. I have never made a quilt, so this is an interesting venture. I have spent countless hours cutting out 182 or so 8 x 8 squares of varying Marvel fabrics. I finally finished today. Oy! And I have a feeling this is only the beginning. I’m soooooooooooooo tired!

So, until tomorrow, when I will hopefully have more energy to fill you in on the lovely quinoa dish I made for dinner tonight, dear readers, good night.

Kindness

Share kindness. Treat others how you wish to be treated.

I want to talk about kindness tonight. Do you remember as a child, picking on another child who was weaker, or different in some way? Maybe you were the picked on child? Don’t you wish someone would have taught you to treat others with kindness? Don’t you wish that people would?

I tell my children “kindness is never a mistake” and I truly believe that. I love it when someone is extra kind to me. It makes my heart fill with joy that a connection was made. Maybe I brightened their day. Maybe I brightened my own.

I, myself, like to connect with people I come across on my daily travels. Today, I was shopping in a nearby city, and made several connections. It was great. The first was in a fabric store, where I asked the clerk if I could see a fabric that had been placed in the “put back” bin. It wasn’t what I wanted when I saw it up close, but it was worth a look. The lady at the other cutting station understood immediately. “You gotta check,” I commented to her. She smiled and told me she understood. Ah, yes! Connection.

So, you can go about your day with your eyes focused on your shoes, keeping safe. Or, you could bring those eyes up and look for a life-affirming connection. You never know how your smile or kind word could make someone’s day. And remember, kindness is never a mistake!!!

Oatmeal Cookies – The Almost Healthy Cookie

Yummmmm!

I must say that when it comes to oatmeal raisin cookies, they are so good and the oats are so good for you, that they could (in some warped mind such as my own!) be considered almost…dare I say it?…healthy? Maybe that’s pushing it a bit, but they are darned tasty and this recipe has no dairy in it, as well as no gluten! It’s a win-win!!!

You will cream 1 1/2 cups of butter substitute (I used Smart Balance) with 2 2/3 cups of packed brown sugar. Then you will add 4 eggs and 2 tsp. vanilla. When that is incorporated, add 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. of cinnamon, 1 tsp. of freshly grated nutmeg, 2 tsp. xanthan gum, and 2 cups of brown rice flour.

Stir in 4 cups of gf oatmeal, 2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut, 1 cup of almond flour, and 1 package (2 1/2 cups) raisins. Mix well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit, and drop by teaspoonfuls, or cookie scoop onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for five minutes before transferring to a cookie rack to finish cooling. Happy eating!!!!

Sloppy Joe’s or Dirty Mike’s

My Sloppy Joe’s Meat with Sauce – Yummy!

Sloppy Joe’s are a sandwich which originated in Sioux City, Iowa in the nineteen fifties by a cook named Joe, who added barbeque sauce to his loose meat sandwich. It is a strictly American food, with which some of my dear readers may not be familiar. My loving grandfather, the one who grew up in an orphanage, used to call them “Dirty Mike’s.” I have know idea as to why, but would guess he came up with the name as his creative alternative to sloppy Joe’s. Why should Joe have all the fun?

For dinner tonight, I decided to make sloppy Joe’s. We haven’t had them in a while, and it sounded good. Here is my standard recipe. You may enlarge it if you need to feed more than 3 – 4 people. It was just children #’s 2 and 3 with me tonight, so 1 pound of beef was plenty.

You will need:

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 Tbsp. dried onion flakes

3 cups of water

1/2 cup of your favorite barbeque sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)

1/2 cup tomato sauce

3 – 4 gluten-free buns (I like Udi’s multi-grain hamburger buns)

In a medium saucepan break up ground beef into small bits. Add onion flakes and water. Cook over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Drain water. Add barbeque sauce and tomato sauce. Stir in and heat through. Serve as sandwiches, or as open face sandwiches, as we did. You get more meat and it’s neater because you eat it with a fork and a knife! Grandpa would be so proud!!!